San jose state university human subjects-institutional review board


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Prior approval by the Human Subjects-Institutional Review Board is required for all research involving human subjects to be conducted by SJSU students, staff, or faculty. Procedures may not begin until approval is received.
The following information is provided to assist you in preparing your protocol narrative for review by the Human Subjects-Institutional Review Board. Your responses should be written in a manner which can be understood by a non-specialist. Please complete all sections of this template. If any section is not applicable, list the heading and simply indicate “N/A.
Instructions are bracketed and in italics. Please remove instructions prior to submission.

I. application

ii. project title
Role of gender identity, gender role and cultural factors in mediating the relationship between HIV/AIDS & Tourism in India

iii. investigators and staffing




Soma Sen

Asst. Professor

Proposal Development, questionnaire development, Data Analysis

Shalini Gambhir

Program Head

Data Collection

Primary Investigator(s) Signature:

iv. involvement of other institutions

  1. Bangalore Medical Services Trust & Research Institute

  2. Swasti

v. abstract

This proposed research project is designed to increase the understanding of the relationship between HIV/AIDS and tourism in India and how gender roles and cultural expectations mediate this relationship. According to the UAIDS (2008), by the year 2010, there will be more adults living with HIV in India than the entire continent of Africa, a majority of whom will be women. India is a gendered society, which means that human relations in socio-economic, political and cultural realms are determined by gendered perception. Thus the status of a vast majority of Indian women is determined by their gender. Because of the perpetuation of age-old taboos, superstitions, prejudices, women in many parts of India are still judged to be of inferior intrinsic worth, a burden to society, and hence, a legitimate target for discrimination, abuse and human rights violations. Due to the impoverished socio-economic conditions that prevail in many parts of India, often women are bought from poor families or kidnapped while begging and forced into sexual activities with tourists for meager amounts. This issue is further compounded by cultural and familial obligations. It is not unusual then for women to enter into the sex industry, voluntarily or involuntarily to earn a living.

Globalization has had a profound impact on the lives of women by further aggravating these issues (Bloor, et. al., 2000; Healey, 2001; Mayadas, Elliott & Ramanathan, 1999; Mensendiek, 1997). Several authors (Cohen 1996; Oppermann 1999; Harrison 2001) have commented on how Asia has become the major locus for sex tourism, and one of the contributing factors to the growth of the sex industry in Asia is the mobility of people via tourism. This is all the more devastating because in South Asia, the link between sex trafficking and HIV is emerging stronger than ever before (Huda, 2006). This poses a serious concern as the nexus among poverty, HIV, and the trafficking of women is creating insecurity that threatens the lives of the victims and further impoverish the poor. The psychological impacts upon the victims are hard to measure as they suffer from a myriad of both emotional and physical problems.

Within the context of India, research that has explored the relationship between HIV/AIDS and tourism has documented several demand side factors such as India’s relaxed laws on prostitution, a myth of lower incidence of HIV prevalence and the abundance of female child prostitutes. On the supply side of this equation are factors such as poverty, family disruption (such as death or illness of a husband or father), and family physical and sexual abuse (Silverman et. al., 2006). What is missing from this discursive space are the voices of women and their ability to resist dominant societal norms and structures. The purpose of this proposal is to obtain support in the form of a “Pair” grant for a small, initial study to begin to explore the underlying social and structural factors that influence the relationship between tourism and HIV/AIDS.

Fieldwork for this project will be conducted in one of the most visited tourist destinations in India; namely Karnataka. The study will be exploratory in nature and will use qualitative methods to answer the following broad research questions:

  1. What is the relationship between HIV/AIDS and tourism in India?

  2. How do gender and culture mediate the relationship between HIV/AIDS and tourism?

  3. Are these societal, cultural and demographic variables that mediate this relationship between HIV/AIDS and tourism similar to those seen in other South East Asian countries? In other words, is there something unique to the Indian experience of this phenomenon?

vi. human subjects involvement

A. subject population
7-8 participants will be contacted to complete an hour long face to face interview. The participant’s will be female sex workers between the ages of 25-44. They are Indian female sex workers and come from different religious backgrounds at least 2 Hindu, 2 Christian and 2 Muslim women. The study explores the role of gender and culture in population group that is identified as at risk for HIV/AIDS exposure. We are selecting participants from different religious backgrounds since religion is a crucial element in the cultural and social constructions of gender and sex norms.

b. recruitment plan
This project will be conducted in collaboration with two NGOs in Karnatka (Bangalore Medical Services Trust & Research Institute and Swasti) that provide social service and education and prevention to women who are living with HIV/AIDS and to commercial sexworkers in this state. The key personnel involved in this project are the program directors in these organizations.

The NGOs on the ground will be responsible for identifying key informants served by their organizations. Even though the program directors are in management positions, they are also direct service providers and have an ongoing relationship with the women they serve. Since they already have a rapport with the informants, they will be collecting the data for this project. This data will be collected through face to face interview using a semi-structured interview schedule, which will be developed by me in collaboration with the directors.

c. research methods and design / procedures

This study is primarily an exploratory study and we will be using an inductive approach guided by the existing literature to analyze the data. Once the subjects are identified by the program managers of each NGO, the research project will be explained to the participants and a consent form will be used to obtain consent. The primary language spoken by the key informants is Kannada, so the consent forms and the questionnaire are in that language. Additionally the principal data collector (Ms. Shalini Gambhir) speaks and writes Kannada and will be the key personnel in explaining the project and obtaining consent from the participants. Once consent is obtained, a time and place for data collection will be ascertained. Once, these steps are taken the actual data will be collected through face to face interview with the participants.

d. materials and devices
A semi-structured interview schedule in Kannada is the primary data collection instrument.

The interviewee will be using a tape recorder to record the interview (with the permission of the participants). She will also be taking notes. The data will then be transcribed and translated into English. Ms. Gambhir will be doing all the translation. This data will then be analyzed and will be presented in the development of a scholarly manuscript. A report on the data analysis will be submitted to the NGOs involved.

e. confidentiality

Every measure will be taken to maintain confidentiality of the participants. They will not be identified by their names and no other identifying information will be taken. Some general demographic information will be collected, but these cannot be used to traced back to the participants.

The transcribed data will be couriered to the principle investigator in San Jose State. Once the data is received it will be saved in a flash drive, which will be kept in a locked drawer in the office of the PI in the Social Work Department. The PI is the only person who will have access to the interviews.

f. compensation

As a token of appreciation the participants will be offered Rs. 100 (approximately 2 U.S. dollars). This amount was suggested by the NGOs to ensure that the data collected remain authentic and the participants not be swayed by the compensatory amount.

g. potential benefits
There are no known health benefits of this research. However, by providing the women with a platform to voice their opinion and share their stories, this research might provide some positive psychological benefits.

It is also hoped that this research would also lead to some consciousness raising for these women. There has been a growing trend of the women’s empowerment in the sex industry and this research might contribute to that trend.

This is a pilot study, so the results from this exploratory tresearch will have very limited generalizability. However, the collaborators and the PI hope to conduct larger studies in other Indian states based on the data from this pilot study that could then have a greater potential for generalizability.

h. potential risks

There are no known risks associated with this research. However, in telling their stories the women might feel some psychological stress associated with naming their current realities.

I. risk reduction
The data collector (Ms. Gambhir) knows these women and has an ongoing relationship with them through direct service provision. Ms. Gambhir will provide some time after the interview where the participants can talk about this experience and their feelings if they choose to.

vii. informed consent

A. consent process
Consent will be obtained from the participants by Ms. Gambhir. The consent form used by the ethical board of the NGOs involved was modified to suit this study and translated in Kannada, the primary language of the key informants. Once, IRB (SJSU) approval is obtained the actual process of data collection will begin.

There are no minors involved in this study.

b. special consent provisions


c. waiver of written consent


d. debriefing


e. consent forms

viii. other


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